Friess Lake is one of the few public schools in the world to initiate a MAKER’S Lab. What is a MAKER’S Lab? Let’s start with what it is not- it is not like your old middle school industrial arts class, the one that culminated with a birdhouse.
The MAKER’S Lab is a community of learners who use their creativity to prototype and test their ideas in the process of MAKING things. Rope bridges out of plastic bags, robots, roller coasters, Lego Robotics, using cardboard and duct tape to build a boat, underwater robotic vehicles, aquaponics, rockets, and more!
In the process of MAKING these things, the students are testing and developing their knowledge of electronics, math, science, and engineering. They are also developing their “grit” as they learn to persevere through failure. The MAKER’S Lab will provide students with opportunities to tinker with ideas, to imagine and iterate as they apply skills to an actual product, and, in case you missed it the first time- to persevere through failure. Mistakes can be celebrated and used as part of the learning process.
The role of the instructor morphs from that of “Sage of the stage” to “Guide on the side.”
We believe that a key part of our educational mission must be to provide students with opportunities to enhance their Critical Thinking and Problem Solving through Reasoning and Analysis, Initiative and Entrepreneurialism, and Curiosity and Imagination. These are part of what author Tony Wagner refers to as “...Survival Skills for the 21st Century.”
Some of the details are still taking shape, but we are extremely excited to offer this unique learning experience to the students of Friess Lake School. All students in K5-8 will have an opportunity to cycle through the lab. This is made possible through a grant from Cognizant, a leading provider of information technology, consulting, and business process outsourcing services, headquartered in Teaneck, NJ. Cognizant’s Making the Future education initiative seeks to inspire young learners to pursue science, technology, engineering and math disciplines by creating fun, hands-on learning opportunities.
Making the Future draws inspiration from the Maker Movement, a broad-based community that celebrates the art of designing and building really cool things, either doing it yourself (DIY) or with others (DIWO). Makers are driven by the challenge of the projects they tackle, while also engaging in design- and project-based learning that can nurture creativity and develop proficiency in the STEM and arts disciplines (STEAM).We will also be working in partnership with School Factory as we move forward with this ambitious project. Information on School Factory can be found at schoolfactory.org, but this part of their mission statement concisely sums up our primary goal “...creating communities and spaces that transform education.”